Meet the local steering committee members who fight opioid overdose deaths
Some people join a local board because they believe in its cause and they want to help further its mission. Most of the time board members function as a governing entity but they are not intricately involved in daily operations. The local stakeholders who serve on the Cayuga County HEALing Communities steering committee not only decide on strategies to combat opioid overdose deaths, many of them are also the boots on the ground who implement these interventions with their staff and local partners. They see individuals and their families who are affected by opioid use disorder almost daily, and they are committed to breaking the cycle of addiction, pain, and suffering in our community.
There are several unique components of the HEALing Communities Study. 67 communities in 4 different states are involved. Every state has a research partner that provides resources and guidance to local communities, in our case Columbia University. HEALing Communities is not a study that merely analyzes the opioid problem, it also provides funding to implement evidence-based practices, which are interventions that are supported by data and outcomes. And most importantly, the strategies that we are implementing in Cayuga County are not prescribed by the funders but chosen by our local steering committee members. This community-driven approach to intervention allows us to react in real-time to local needs and use local data to guide our decisions.
The Cayuga County HEALing steering committee is chaired by Ray Bizzari, the county’s director of community services, and supported by a team of staff that includes Monika Salvage (project director), Corinna Noel (epidemiologist), Jason “Wally” Meyers (technical assistance coordinator), and Mat Roosa (community engagement facilitator). The committee consists of community members representing a number of different fields, backgrounds, and experiences in an effort to capture many different voices and perspectives.
- Bill Berry, Chair, Harriet Tubman Center for Justice and Peace
- Jerimy Blowers, Associate Professor, Cayuga Community College
- Bryan Bush, Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, Confidential Help for Alcohol & Drugs
- Carol Colvin, Resource Coordinator, Auburn City Problem Solving Courts
- Elane Daly, County Legislator
- Adam Duckett, County Coroner
- Kevin Ergil, Director of Health Sciences, Wells College
- Rick Hansinger, Interim Director, Nick’s Ride 4 Friends
- Kevin Hares, Executive Director, Confidential Help for Alcohol & Drugs
- Monica Hastings, Mental Health Social Worker, County Jail
- Kevin Jones, Director of External Affairs, Heroin Epidemic Action League
- Shelyagh Kennedy, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, County Mental Health Clinic
- JoLynn Mulholland, Program Coordinator, Drug Free Community Coalition
- Travis Poole, Fire Fighter, Auburn Fire Department
- Courtney Seamans, Emergency Room Nurse Manager, Auburn Community Hospital
- Brian Schenck, County Sheriff
- Ashley Short, Program Director, Grace House Chemical Dependency Program
- James Slayton, Chief of Police, Auburn Police Department
We also have smaller workgroups that focus on specific implementation strategies around opioid overdose education, Narcan distribution, medications for opioid use disorder, and safer opioid prescribing and disposing. Additional community members with a special interest or expertise participate in those discussions.